Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-6
Amount of time to play: 45 min
Age requirements: 8+
Set-up time: 5 minutes
Bazaar is a classic abstract strategy game by Sid Sackson. You must gain and trade gems to buy cards but only the most efficient trader will win this game.
To set up Bazaar you place four piles of five Ware Cards face-down then flip the top card of each pile face-up. Next you take two random Exchange Cards and place them face-up.
Ware Cards show five gems and can be bought if you have set of matching gems in your collection. Some Ware Cards have a star and score you more points when bought.
The Exchange Cards each show five equations like Red = Green White. On your turn you can roll the die to randomly determine what color gem you get or you may trade using one of the equations on the Exchange Cards. When you trade you return either side of an equation and take the other side.
On your turn you roll to get a gem or make a trade then you may purchase one Ware Card. You score points based on the number of gems you have left after you buy the Ware Card. Less is more here and you score more for not having gems leftover.
Play continues to the left until two of the four ware piles are gone. Then the game ends and the player with the most points wins. Once one pile is gone Ware Cards without a star score like those with a star and those with a star score even more.
Bazaar is a simple and elegant game. It can be taught in minutes and a variety of ages can enjoy it. Some people don’t like the thin theme, but the mechanics and blend of tactics and luck make this a fun and unique game.
The components are high quality and look great. The box is awesomely designed and even has a plastic insert to keep everything in place. My only gripe here is for a score track. You will have to use pen and paper but it would have been nice if the game came with a scoring mechanism.
Like I said this game is straightforward and can be taught in minutes, but not everyone will like it. The Exchange Cards can be overwhelming and there is a good bit to think about in this game. I think after playing a game or two your brain adjust to help figure out the equations for the most efficient trades.
There are other subtle, but fun, things that happen as the game goes on. You must determine when the best time is to empty the first pile. Should you try to eliminate a few gems via trading before you purchase a Ware Card to score more?
The only real complaint I have is that the game has little player interaction. In larger games there is definitely more competition for the Ware Cards. But there is no way for you to stop or slow down your opponents’ deals.
That’s said I still think Bazaar is a fun game that plays well with both gamers and non-gamers. Since a variety of ages can enjoy this game, it is great for families. The play time also will help it hit the table often.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 5 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 1 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 2 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6